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“I thought the piece might turn out to have more of a fugal development. It’s not really a fugue, though; it’s more of a counterpoint – you get one theme ending and another one starts underneath it. I guess the closest you get to it is a canon.
“It evolved pretty much like all of the other ELP concept albums: me at home, writing on manuscript paper, doing scribblings and things like that. My main concern was that I was coming up with something memorable and that it could be played by an orchestra one day. The whole piece was worked out instrumentally; we had no idea where we were going lyrically; we didn't even what to call it. I didn’t think up with the title; it actually came from Pete Sinfield. He was doing a play on the word ‘carnival.’
“Once I had it all written down instrumentally, I went to the rehearsal studio and ran it through with Greg and Carl, how the bass should go, how the drums should go. Of course, they came up with their own ideas, and I’d say, ‘Yeah, that’s cool. We can use that – I’ll change what I’m doing then.’ For a month we went over and over it, playing it all day. Finally, we felt good enough to bring it to the recording studio. You can’t just bash out a piece like this; you’ve got to really know what you’re doing.
“There’s the main hook part, the sort of anthem riff – at some point it developed into a bohemian or Jamaican feel. I think it gave Carl a lot to work with so he could add a lot of syncopations on the drums.”
“There is a bit of Beatles in the lyrics – ‘roll up’ and the idea of a show, like with Sgt. Pepper. I was a bit nervous about that, but I thought we were going something very different from what they had done. The music along with H.R. Giger’s artwork, it was definitely more bizarre.”